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Salvation Stories 11: Anthony Colaiuta: Personal Testimony

Salvation Stories Day 11 – Anthony Colaiuta: Personal Testimony

(Compiled by Wendi Colaiuta, through his wife’s treasured memories)

As a young boy, Tony served as an altar boy in church. He was told by the priest that during communion, the wine became blood and the wafer became flesh. His curiosity was piqued, so he decided to taste them without the priest’s knowledge and discovered the priest’s claim wasn’t true; he could only conclude that the priest had lied to him. This left him with more questions about God’s truth, but no answers.

In his teenage years, his parents’ unstable marriage left Tony in challenging family situations, with little paternal guidance, often spending long periods of time with family members who did not always treat him kindly. Just before graduation, he dropped out of high school and joined the army, becoming a paratrooper. Despite completing 13 successful jumps, he witnessed severe injuries sustained by fellow soldiers and decided he would not make any more jumps!  

During Tony’s first day on ground duty, while jumping off the back of a truck, he fell and fractured his neck! His injuries involved a lengthy recovery—a full year in the hospital. With few options to fill his days during those 12 months in traction, he read all the books on the hospital’s library cart. The last book was a Bible, which he read cover to cover—twice—before his discharge. The questions he wrestled with as a young boy resurfaced. Many of the things he had been taught in church were simply not in the Bible. He realized these were not truths of God but institutions of men.

Although Tony never spoke of his search for God’s truth with anyone, when the nurse who cared for him in the hospital learned he did not have a Bible of his own, she gave him one . At long last, he received a medical discharge from the army and left with money to buy a car, the GI bill to provide funding for college, and a Bible!

Tony decided to enroll in the University of Delaware. Despite having dropped out of high school, he was able to pass the necessary test to acquire a high school diploma. At the University of Delaware, he met his future wife, a fellow student who was a Christian. He was drawn to her, but she was hesitant to date him. Impressed by her devotion to the Lord, and hearing her speak knowledgeably about the Bible, he began to share his long-held questions with her. They passed many hours digging deep into God’s truth in the Bible.   

One snowy day, he heard that the local church building could not open due to the weather, but a small group of people had decided to meet in someone’s home. Unbeknownst to anyone in that gathering, he hopped into his truck, drove to the house, and cleared away the snow. Although, as an unbeliever, he did not join them in remembering the Lord that day, he admired the love of God’s people. Tony was deeply impressed by their devotion to honor the Lord (despite complications from the weather), their care for one another, and the preciousness with which they approached the Lord’s Supper.  

A moment of poignant reality washed over him as he compared his confusion about communion as a young boy to what he was witnessing in this simple gathering of believers. He saw their appreciation for the death of the Lord Jesus, His finished work on Calvary’s cross to atone for each of them personally, and their loving response to the new covenant He had established for them. This wasn’t a rote ceremony; there was a vibrant reality in what he observed, a pure and genuine reflection of what he’d been reading regarding gatherings of early believers in the New Testament. Tony wanted “what those people had.”  

Months passed while Tony quietly observed a growing list of things he admired in the hearts of God’s people. He continued asking questions, persistently seeking clarification. In time, the Holy Spirit opened his understanding to fully embrace what he had been reading in the Bible. At age 24, the Lord reached Tony’s heart. He was ready to receive the good news of the gospel, God’s free offer of salvation, and he was born again. Shortly after he was saved, as he had read in God’s Word, Tony asked to be baptized and joined that same group of believers, gathering to remember the Lord each week.  

Like the two on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24, Tony could look back on his journey, tirelessly searching for truth and longing to know the one true God, and say, “Did not [my] heart burn within [me] while He talked to [me] on the road, while He opened to [me] the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32, ESV). “He was made known to [me] in the breaking of the bread”  (vs. 35, CSB). From that day forward, there was no gathering of the local church more precious to Tony than the gathering at the Lord’s table to remember Jesus’ sacrifice for him and to rejoice in the personal relationship he now enjoyed with the Lord.

Several years later, he experienced the love of God’s people again. While traveling on business hundreds of miles from home, Tony found the contact information for a local group of believers who would be gathering for a prayer meeting. When he reached out for information and directions, a perfect stranger on the other end of the phone told him, “Stay right where you are; we will come right away to pick you up.”  

The Christians from that local church heartily welcomed him and embraced him like family. This level of genuine care, a true reflection of God’s heart, impacted him deeply. It became his lifelong goal to open his own home in the same way, to serve homemade meals with generous hospitality, and to raise his children to love the Lord and to love others.

Tony never stopped studying the Bible. His curiosity and deep desire to understand the truths of God never waned. Through the rest of Tony’s life, the Lord continued to use His own Word to reveal His heart and to clarify His purposes. As He had always done, long before Tony knew or trusted Him, the Lord orchestrated circumstances that drew Tony to know, love, and trust Him more. He gave Tony a heart to treasure and follow His commands and to deeply invest in other people, most notably the young adults he taught and mentored in Sunday School and the couples he counseled.

Tony’s love for the Lord and for God’s people in his local church only deepened over time. He served both faithfully, as a revered and beloved teacher and an elder who led with grace, until the Lord called him home to heaven at age 65.

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